State seeks artwork from Israel Museum

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JERUSALEM -- A government-run company has asked the Israel Museum to relinquish 400 works of art owned by Jews killed in the Holocaust. American troops found the paintings -- appropriated by Nazis from private collections throughout Europe -- hidden in salt mines in Germany.

The museum is negotiating with the company, which was established to locate and restore assets belonging to Holocaust victims, Haaretz reported. The company wants the artwork -- housed in the museum since its founding -- based on a law requiring property whose owners died in the Holocaust be transferred to it.

If the company receives the artwork, official said it will try to locate its owners' heirs. If the heirs cannot be located, the company will sell the works, using any proceeds to assist needy Holocaust survivors or support institutions that commemorate the Holocaust.

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